Greek doctors are cleared over death of British tourist

Three Greek doctors convicted of the manslaughter of a 24-year-old British holidaymaker were cleared by an appeal court in Rhodes yesterday.

The distraught family of Christopher Rochester were left in tears after three appeal judges quashed the convictions at the end of a two-day hearing.

The ruling sparked a call by the family's MP for a tourist boycott of the sunshine island.

Mr Rochester, of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, died at the island's Andreas Papandreou Hospital in June 2000, after he fell from a balcony in the town of Faliraki. The doctors, Stergios Pavlidis, Georgos Karavolias and Mihalis Sokorelos, were convicted of manslaughter by neglect in 2003 and sentenced to three years in jail, suspended pending an appeal.

Yesterday, the judges conferred behind a sheet of paper before ruling the appeal was upheld and calling another case.

The family were briefly unaware of the ruling until it was explained to them, while across the courtroom one doctor and his family began celebrating.

Another case was being started before the Rochester family had time to leave the courtroom, without the judges having even risen from the bench or paused between cases.

Mr Rochester's tearful mother Pam, 47, told PA: "The verdict is unbelievable. It was totally cold and heartless the way it was delivered without any respect or compassion for the family."

Mr Rochester's brother Keith, 30, said: "The doctors were convicted in 2003, and even with extra evidence against them presented to the appeal, they have been acquitted. There's got to be something more to what happened in that courtroom."

The family's Greek lawyer, Sotirios Manolkidis, said he was staggered at the verdict.

He said: "I cannot comment on the judicial decision until I have seen a written judgment and only then can I make an informed decision on whether there are grounds for an appeal.

"It's shocking the decision of the court can be made in five minutes on the bench without the judges leaving the room. The first hearing deliberated for more than four hours before returning the opposite verdict."

North Durham Labour MP Kevan Jones, who has championed the Rochester family's cause, said it was a tragedy that the doctors were cleared. Mr Jones said: "What happened in that court was scandalous.

"The evidence was stacked against the doctors and serious questions now need to be asked.

"I would recommend that nobody comes here as this sends a message out to British tourists not to travel to Rhodes.

"They ... cannot be guaranteed their safety in hospital and there must be serious concerns about the legal system."

A spokesman for Rhodes Tourism said: "Tourists can be absolutely confident that they can expect a high standard of medical care should they be taken ill or have any kind of accident while on holiday here."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?